The Best Climbing Movies of the 21st Century


Plenty of action, a thrilling sense of danger and added tension are all attributes of what makes a fantastic adventure film. Here are our best picks of the climbing and mountaineering themed films of the 21st century so far.

‘North Face’ (2008)

Set in 1936 in Nazi Germany, this is a suspense packed adventure film focusing on two German climbers entering a competition to complete a daring ascent of the Eiger, the most dangerous rock face in the Alps. Encouraged mainly by Nazi propaganda to instill national pride among the population, the men team up with another team of Austrian competitors. Facing internal team issues, injuries and an almighty avalanche, chances of survival are slim for all of the participants.

This film won many awards in its native Germany, such as the Bambi Awards, the German equivalent to the UK’s BAFTA’s, and was well received in many non-German speaking countries, receiving excellent reviews across the board.


‘Touching The Void’ (2003)

This well-known documentary-style climbing film is based on the 1988 book by Joe Simpson. The film recounts the treacherous tale of Simpson and his climbing partner Simon Yates’ successful, but almost fatal, climb of the Siula Grande in the Peruvian Andes in 1985. The men reach the previously unclimbed West Face of Siula Grande and face trouble on the descent as Simpson slips from an ice cliff, sustaining broken bones in his fall. Joined together by rope, unable to hear or see each other, a test of will and determination begins. Yates has to make a heart rending decision. As their supplies have also been exhausted, the men face an almost unbelievable fight to survive in the freezing conditions and reach base camp to return to civilisation. Reconstruction scenes and interview-style narration help tell this fantastic account of the greatest strengths and challenges climbers can experience.

This is the ultimate nail biting adventure film and considered a truly amazing and admirable feat in the climbing community.


‘The Wildest Dream’ (2010)

Focusing on the disappearance of British climber George Mallory and his climbing partner Andrew Irvine on Mount Everest in 1924, ‘The Wildest Dream’ is a documentary-style film which combines two stories. The first is centred around climber Conrad Anker, who discovered Mallory’s body in 1999 and goes back to Everest to investigate the circumstances surrounding his death. The second story entwined with Anker’s investigative adventure is a biographical look at the fateful trip taken by Mallory and Irvine, as told through original 1920’s footage and archive photographs. This part of the film is told through narration from well known British actors Ralph Fiennes, Hugh Dancy, Liam Neeson, Alan Rickman and the late Natasha Richardson, who read letters written by Mallory to his wife outlining his obsession and determination to conquer Everest.
The film received many positive reviews and awards, often been hailed for its beautiful cinematography and awe-inspiring scenery used in shots, plus it’s unusual way of telling a story with its mix of narration, archive and contemporary footage. Such a unique and interesting tale has to be seen to be believed.

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